Saturday, June 23, 2012

Funky Kids

I'm going to write about all the stuff that's being on with school. We've been a part of some pretty snazzy projects throughout the year which are all coming to an end. You can expect to read about street parties, boxing to soul music (commonly known at Carle Vernet as 'boxe and soul'), 4 year olds dutty wining, country dancing like a rabbit and the usual walks past prostitutes on any daytime school outing. 

For a while we've been working on a dance project, aimed at helping the kids with movement and developing the use of their bodies, as well as promoting individual expression through the arts. As a part of this, my colleague arranged an event with his good chum, who is the head of an organisation in Bordeaux called 'allez les filles', who do loads of free concerts around town in all the trendy wendy hip hop happening places. The head of the organisation, Francis, is also a keen boxer, and a big name on the bordeaux boxing scene, so I'm guessing it's because of this that we decided to merge music and boxing, to have 'boxe and soul', where you are supposed to fight to the music. I can't say the kids managed this as the gloves went as high as their elbows so they were just trying to handle the weight of them and hit anything, anywhere, but still a fun concept for people above the age of four.
everyone loves a conga

The event was held at a park just next to the school, and after lunch we took all the kids over, met Francis with his dj booth and big speakers set up, and had a party! It was all soul and funk music as thats also blending into one of the weird themes we had going on. We made soul trains and generally just had a boogie for a while. I convinced some friends to join the fun, and of course they were impressed, we had a bar, a boxing ring, a DJ pumping out classic tunes through the night, and a big dinner where everyone brought something along and shared. How could you not be impressed?! It was a bit strange to be out drinking and busting a move with not only my colleagues but the parents of my pupils, but it was so so lovely and they're all (obviously) devastated that I'm not returning next year. After a brief awkward conversation with a colleague about french men, we abandoned our uneaten contribution of some kind of pear cake and anyone I shouldn't really drink around, and headed for safer quarters.
Celia and I enjoying the Carle Vernet vibes

We've also had another recent outing to perform traditional French country dancing in public for anyone to come and watch (my friends again looked really weird being the only non-parents watching young children they don't know dance). Of course I felt French country dancing was my calling, so got right in there and showed them how it was done. It's a bit of pain trying to 'swing your partner' when they are about 4 centimetres tall, so i got rid of my kid and performed a perfect rendition 'attention, attention' with a colleague to a seemingly never ending song, courtesy of a live band. Undoubtedly, my favourite is 'le saut du lapin' (the rabbit jump), which embarrassingly enough I've taken out on the town with me and taught all my friends when we're at house parties/in a bar/in a club. It's appropriate in most circumstances really.
showing up the other schools with our killer moves
If anyone is interested just let me know, I'm a really good teacher...
This event wasn't actually in my work hours so I was able to take little mini breaks between dances and enjoy some wine with amigos, then get back to the gritty world of country dancing, which is now my main focus in life. Also, interestingly, they danced the same country dance that I used to do when I was younger and cuter, at the Brentham May Day, and it even had the same name, so someone, somewhere is lying about it being specific to England / Aquitaine region.... It's ok though, it just allowed me to shine even more being such a pro.

Last week we had yet ANOTHER trip about dancing, to a local theatre to perform the dances each class has been working on, which they ended up performing last friday evening (I was in England, heartbreak), in one of Bordeaux's biggest venues, Le Rocher de Palmer, which is impressive. The little one we went on a trip to was just a standard little hall with a stage, but it was a show with other schools from the area as well. They've been slaving away on these for months, and each class has worked around a different theme such as sport or playtime. Of course, en route to the venue, at about 1 30pm, we passed the usual clan of Begles prostitutes out 'working'. Things got a bit awkward when one of the kids touched one of their bags, but we just speeded on past, they are faarr to young to understand what they do. It's soo strange that it's so obvious in broad daylight and no one thinks it's odd in the slightest, my colleagues never seem to get uncomfortable whereas I'm having a mini freakout every time we walk right past them with tons of 3 and 4 year olds. So so so weird, oh France! I recorded one of my fave dances, please take note of the girls in class 5 whipping their hair/dutty wouldn't upload onto the blog,  but here is the link to it, enjoy..

my Old MacDonald superstars

Yesterday was 'La fête de la Musique' in Bordeaux, which was incredibly cool. A ton of free concerts all over the city, all through the day, and night. They had every genre possible covered, from Pocahontas-esque music, to bagpipe bands, Brazilian drummers, indie bands, metal rock, electro, choirs and many many more. In the evening my self and some pals walked all over town checking out the various musicians/singers/djs, and benefiting from the relaxed drinking in public laws. Although there was a very strong police presence, EVERYONE was drinking, and the police never blinded and eye so I'm sure there was some kind of exception because they are normally very militant about it. Yesterday afternoon, we had our own 'fete de la musique' at school, where my kids in elementaire sang 'Old McDonald had a farm', professionally conducted by me, which we have literally been working on for a good 2 months to get it PERFECT. The parents and staff were ranting and raving about it though, so I'm not sure they understand that all we did was a make a few animal noises... Here's a clip of the maternelle and elementaire school doing their joint number, it's rather catchy

hanging out with a white tiger
The last trip/event I'll talk about is the trip to Bordeaux zoo we went on a few weeks ago. It was quite impressive, lacked sea lions and penguins, but you can't win them all. I was a bit worried as it was with the youngest children in the school, and once we got there I was given some kids and was told to go off with them alone, which I've never done on a trip before, there's always been at least one other adult in my group. I didn't manage to lose anyone for longer than 30 seconds though, and the zoo had two red pandas, my absolute favourites so it was a pretty successful day. 

I hope you enjoyed the tales about my often bizarre job,

Thanks for reading,



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Highlights from the last few months...

It's been a while since my last post, and now I finally have the time to write as I'm avoiding packing up my french life to start bringing stuff back to England.

It's been a busy few months, so I'm thinking that I'll just pick a few highlights, whack in some pretty pics and wow you with some clips even.

1) France has a new President!
 I should hope that everyone knows this, but I was fortunate enough to be here during the very very close election. Francois Hollande only won with 51.62%...

We went to the socialist party's celebrations at Place de la Victoire, which was all pimped out with big wide screens, music and lots of happy people dancing into the night. It was so lovely, such a nice ambience. Sean Paul was played so I was very content.

However once the official party had ended, lots of the local hooligans came out, and set fire to pretty much anything, boxes, bins etc, and were just generally being disgusting, throwing glass bottles into the crowd, thowing fireworks into the fire..

Typically, I got a bit into it and started screaming at them in my still awful broken french. Im not sure it did much good, but I did help break up a fight. Always on the front line of a bit of political action!

2) Biarritz / St Jean de Luz / La Rhune

At the top!
In April myself and a few pals went on a day of adventure, reminiscent of my beloved Duke of Edinburgh days. Everyone loves a good hike!
It took a few hours to get to the top of the mountain, then we took the little train thing back down the mountain. Lazy people can get the train up too, but keen outdoorsmen like ourselves were having none of that.

After conquering the mountain in my much missed hiking boots, we hopped back in the car and spent the rest of the afternoon in St Jean de Luz, being May, I thought it was high time I wasn't the only one braving the Atlantic, so Rachel and I went in together, not actually thaaat cold compared to San Seb in March...

We then got back in the car and headed to Biarritz for dinner, which after hunting for a restaurant for about twelve thousand years, we managed to find the most incredible place on earth. I was so devastated to leave. I don't exactly remember what we ate, I just remember being really really happy.

Finally it was time to leave and blast out some Sean Paul for the drive back to Bordeaux.

3) Mum's visit

Dune du Pyla
Last month my mama came to visit for her birthday. Ellis gals on tour 2k12. We spent her birthday on the beach at Arcachon, then visited the Dune du Pyla. I had been given the day off work as I was making up hours on other days, but we were lucky, (or unlucky) enough to be on the same train as the entire upper section of my school, who were also going to Arcachon for a dance performance. Its a good hour train, and I got many looks from locals wondering why I kept waving at these kids in the next carriage / playing games with them through the glass doors. However it did mean my mum got to meet my colleagues and some of my kids.

On the wednesday we went to St Emilion to become wine boffs. We went on a tour of the town in one of those snazzy white tourist train things, which was packed out with a group of retired french elderly people. Cute but annoying, I couldn't hear any of the fun historical facts over the men discussing the pro's and con's of any tractor of farm vehicle we passed on route to the vineyards. Thankfully we ditched them at the vineyard, where we got a tour of the grounds, the cellars, and of course a bit of tasting at the end.

 It was lovely to have her here as she hadn't visited yet, although she always manages to benefit from wherever I am on her birthday. Last year was Washington DC, this year Bordeaux, and we're already discussing Montreal next year... What a lucky lady!

I'll leave you with a sneak peek of the next blog... this is one of the kids at school at one of our recent events 'Dancing in the Street'. He is 5 years old and already a little MJ, such a proud parent.

Thanks for reading, another one is on the way soon!



Friday, March 9, 2012

Why my job is fantastic/awful

It's been a good month since my last post, so plenty to talk about.

I'll start with school. We recently had a 2 week holiday, and just before that, I finally conquered the 'th' issue with my CP1 class in elementaire (age 6/7). They can now saw mother, brother, father WITHOUT pronouncing 'th' with a Z. I can't explain the pride! Pathetic yet true.

My school is sooooo great, the teachers organise so many projects/outings/events for the little ones. At that age in England they would be playing around in nursery but they learn sooo much in a proper school environment at that age here, without being pushed too hard, and keeping the comfort and feeling of security of a small institution atmosphere. On the last day of term we celebrated carnivale, as it fell during the holidays. It was such a fun day. ALL the children in maternelle, and several classes from elementaire dressed up in 60's Funk outfits they had been making earlier in the week, and all sorts of props; afro wigs, big sunglasses, peace symbol medallions. You name it, it was there.

In the afternoon we all gathered, and the younger classes went on a parade through the streets of the local community all dressed up, with music etc. The elder ones stayed in the playground, and with the help of one of my colleague's friends, we were able to set up huge speakers blaring out Funk music, and had a bit of a dance party with all the kids and the parents. We then met the younger children in the park behind our school, where we had more huge speakers and music. The children formed into their rehearsed positions....and created a soul train. Two rows of children opposite each other with a metre or two between the two rows facing each other. The two children at the top danced their way down the space between the rows to the end, then rejoin the lines at the end, and the next pair go etc etc. Of course I had to take part with one of the teachers to show the kids some really impressive Beyonce dance moves. There was such a great atmosphere, and massive credit to the teachers who organised it. After this we went back to the playground, and ate about ten thousand crêpes and other traditional desserts that the parents had bought in for the event and carried on busting moves.

Food from the families at school

Soul Train, we know how to party

I'm going to rewind a tad further now...we had some snow, like in the UK, which lingered for a good while, and although I was hoping for a snow day...this never happened. Naive as I was, I thought that the snow would be fun with the kids. Allow me to set the scene. Morning break, first day of snow, and the first time many of the kids had seen snow. They were having a massive snow fight. At this point I stepped into the battleground that was the playground. My colleague Patrice shouted 'get the english'. What ensued can only be described as bullying. A hundred and fifty children ran at me, visciously armed with solid balls of snow. Naturally, I ran. The playground isn't big though, there was no escaping them. As I mounted the small hill in the playground, I was being hit from every angle. I went to run down the hill, and yes, I fell. It was icy on the ground, I had slipped. There was a moment of confusion, not knowing whether I should solider on and continue the war, or whether I should surrender. I chose the latter, thinking if i acted hurt, they would pity me, maybe help me up. Boy was I wrong. My glasses just turned into lenses of snow, I couldn't see a thing as they carried on pelting me as I lay there wounded, just a fraction of the person I was when I stepped onto that playground mere moments before.

Despite that, I did manage to have fun with the children in the snow. The school gave each class a lesson off so we could go and have snowmen competitions in the snow, I managed to shuffle my timetable so I spent the day doing this...

I've decided to really push myself with the french, so aswell as being a massive geek and going to uni two evenings a week, I went to buy my first piece of french literature, hoping to get myself into it with a nice light hearted read. I left with this.... My political side got the better of me. I still haven't read past the first paragraph.

Just to make everyone happy, I'll add in that I'm writing this whilst sitting in the sun on my balcony, passing the time away before a road trip to Spain this afternoon....

Thanks for reading

À la prochaine


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Janvier à Bordeaux!

I've been a bit pathetic with posting lately, sorry my life is really great and I've been far too busy.

I'm sure you haven't been able to sleep since the last post, seeing as left you on the gripping cliffhanger of whether or not I've won the King's cake yet. Well to stop your qualms, I can confirm that no, I am still a massive loser in every sense and have yet to win anything. I still keep stealing the hats and pretending to win though, yes, even from the kids at school... That probably suggests some kind of complex? my bad

Susie and Maddison's leaving meal :(

We've said bye to a few good friends recently in Bordeaux, with Maddison and Susie having left for Spain on their second part of their year abroad being the tri-lingual wonders they are. Martha will be leaving in a few weeks so our little group is very much dented. The highlight is that we have a nice trip to Spain or twelve coming our way when the weather warms up. Definitely no Negrita next time, lesson learned.

The french celebrate some kind of twisted version of pancake day, and it was the one day I decided would be appropriate to get really sick and be throwing up all day. I was so heartbroken I couldn't wow them with the skills every Brit accumulates over the years of pancake flipping, but alas I'll make them celebrate soon when the english day comes around. Despite Maria (absolute goddess at school who is in charge of the canteen and generally looking after me) reminding me of all the crêpe fun I'd missed out on, my favourite little chefs in class 2 were making them the day after, which I conveniently switched my lessons around for so my pure 'chance' they ended up making crêpes with me! There was also "british day" in the school canteen last week. The starter was spinach salad with croutons?! Those francais! Fish and chips was of course the main, but the teachers weren't that impressed. I tried to teach the children about traditional British food, and EVERY time i tried to get the younger ones to say 'fish', they replied with what sounded an awful lot like 'chips'. I hadn't even told them about fish and chips, it was genuine mispronunciation at it's finest. So so very cute!

I was also pleasantly surprised last weekend when I came home, very much hungover and I walked straight into a gaufre party! Gaufres are like waffles, and there's a machine here at home which I never knew existed. Marie had a bunch of friends over so we just spend a few hours pouring batter into the mould, then covering the gaufres in every topping available to us. It was so nice to just hang out with french people my own age, as most my friends here are admittedly english... They were all lovely and patient with my weak french but it was reassuring to know I actually understood most things, and was laughing at all the right times etc..

I'll leave you with a few pictures of what biscuits were on offer in the staff room last week. I feel they are far too naughty for a school but classic france! I suppose the kids can't read yet so it's ok that a teacher kept giving them to a child to comfort him whilst he was crying?!

'one night'
'come to bed'
'if you want'

Thanks for reading!

Lots of Love


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bonne Année!

I've been back in Bordeaux for a week and a half now, and theres been plenty going on to write about!

Three figurines and one of the crowns
Throughout the month of January, the french celebrate the kings who visited Jesus at his birth. It's really popular, and is most well known for the gâteau des rois (king's cake). These vary across France, but I've of course made sure to sample several types. Tradition dictates that the youngest person has to sit under the table and call out peoples' names. The pieces of cake are distributed in that order. There are little figurines hidden inside the cake, and if you find it in your piece, then you get to wear the king's crown. There are usually 2 or 3 winners per cake, but I'm yet to have won. Perfect excuse to eat more cake?!

The winners with their crowns! I'm not at all jealous.

We made some of these cakes at school with the children as well, but it took about 12thousand hours as they all kept sucking their thumbs or playing with their hair so most the time was spent making them re-wash their hands. I left that class to go to my next class, and alas, they were baking too, cookies this time. Again it was a bit disastrous. Lesson learned: don't trust a 3 year old to crack an egg. He held the egg over the bowl and then crushed it in his hands so the egg and plenty of broken shell went in the mixture. He then proceeded to get raw egg everywhere in the effort to go and clean his hands (yes, even more handwashing) which he wouldn't stop crying throughout cause he thought he ruined the cookies, but after some solid reassurance on my part that it was fine and just a biiiit funny, he was fine! Later came the cinnamon disaster, which meant the 2 batches made in the class in 2 small groups were easily identifiable as one was ALOT darker. One child was asked to add just a  little bit of cinnamon, with a heavy influence on 'little', but of course, he poured nearly half the jar into the mix... It wasn't just the children who made some faux pas...mid kneading i noticed a healthy little flake of nail varnish that had chipped off my nails, and my hair chose this day to malt so we had a few close calls, but as far as I'm aware no children got a lucky lock or a chunk of gold varnish in their cookies. Health and safety at it's finest.

We've had european visitors at school this week as part of a new proposed multi national project to take place between schools from Italy, Romania, Cyprus and Finland. The project is about dance, so the children have been working really hard to get their moves down to a t. Watching their performance was one of the cutest things you can imagine. They loved doing it and it's so nice to see them being so creative and really thinking about things at such a young age. The theme is 'recreation' (playtime) so all their movements are taken from what actions they use in the playground, which is a surprisingly large amount seeing as the 'toys' they have to play with are just ridiculous. It's an absolute warzone. Every day I'm bombarded with children in tears due to injuries from all the various wheeled vehicles they have. Pedal-less bikes, normal bikes, little trucks one child can sit in and get pushed around in, 2 person bikes, skateboard-esque boards where the wheels go in any direction, scooters, and the skateboard things with rope attached to get dragged around in. Combine this with a large hill, and bare in mind the children are aged 2-6, classic recipe for chaos. I can not even describe how ridiculous it is. The toys are bigger than the children. There are also these massive tyres which are again bigger than the children and literally knock kids down when they're rolled from the top of the hill. It's just utter madness. I can't stress enough the sheer danger out there...we wouldn't get anything even close to that in the UK, but i suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing..

I've become a bit of french geek of late, going to watch french cinema with friends, and having dvd nights in french with my french fam etc. Last weekend I spent most my time with the family I live with, as it was a belated celebration for Sophie's birthday. They had family who had come from all over, and her niece, who come over quite a bit, ended up staying over cause she looveesss it here. She's 6, maybe 7, and ended up convincing Marie and I to play some new age classics. This is supposedly twister.....what happened to the good old fashioned mat?! 

I was invited to dinner at one of the teacher's houses this week to help her 15 year old daughter with an english presentation she has to give at school. Apart from a few hiccups, I'd been feeling quite good about my new found language skills recently. This was all until I met Sarah. She studies french, english, spanish and hebrew at school, and only recently dropped latin. Just to reiterate. SHE IS FIFTEEN! One day I'll be like that..

Hopefully in my next entry I can tell you all about the fabulous time I found a figurine in the king's cake and won. I'll leave you on that big cliffhanger there...

Bonne Année to you all!!



Saturday, December 24, 2011

San Seb and Christmastime

Firstly, I apolagise for how delayed this is. The genius in me left my adaptor in France so I was unable to use my laptop for a week until a new one arrived.. There is so much to write about in these past few weeks I don't know where to begin!

Some friends and I went on a weekend getaway to Spain, with Rachel kindly driving to San Sebastian in the north of the country, not far from the border with France. We had such a fun weekend, shopping at 20% less in Zara was taken full advantage of, and of course spirits were alot cheaper there, so I made great friends with a rum called Negrita, at 12euros (10pound-ish) for 2 litres we were bound to be lovers. We tried to keep traditional with food, with tapas and sangria for lunch, and paella for dinner, although I wasn't too impressed with what 'paella' was served. How silly of me to forget paella is indeed Italian and served with broken up spaghetti, not rice.

The weather was beautiful the entire weekend, so much warmer than Bordeaux, which I thought was freezing until I arrived in London... At one point I just had on a strap top, maybe getting a tad carried away since it was still december. None the less, Clare, Rachel and I braved the sea....up to a massive knee height since we left bikinis at the hostel. The waves were bigger than I expected and so my peaceful paddle ended up in me being drenched by wave and smelling of wet dog for the rest of the day...

After an intentional Italian meal for lunch on the sunday, the five of us who stayed in San Sebastian longer (there were 10 of us between two cars, but some had to be back earlier), climbed a mini Everest to go and see the huge statue of San Sebastian that stands at the top, and enjoyed the views of the Bay of Biscay and the Pyrenees, as well as San Sebastian itself. The weather wasn't as lovely as it was earlier in the day, but the view was still impressive..

    Sadly it was then home time, so we made our way to the car using a sat nav (not sure if that makes us stupid or geniuses?!) to make the three hour-ish journey back to Bordeaux. We sang to Beyonce, Backstreet boys and Rihanna the entire way back, and I obviously put everyone to shame with my superstar singing voice. It was so nice to be back in France and actually understand road signs etc. I was completely lost the entire weekend in Spain, the mixture of Basque and Spanish was far too complicated, it all looked like hieroglyphics to me.

Me, Martha, Rachel, Clare and Ellie at The Bay of Biscay 

Back to school now, and what it bought in december...

We had an art exhibition one tuesday night, displaying the work of the children which parents and local members of the community could buy. I ended up buying four pieces....they were actually really good I promise. I'm going to go ahead and say that I was the inspiration for the work and that's why it was so good. Its the only reason really. Well that managed to raise around 600 euro for the school, which will go towards paying for trips and workshops for the children to take part in. We even featured in the Sud-Ouest newspaper, which I promise is very impressive!

After the exhibition was finished, all the staff went to Francoise's house (the directrice) for a Sardinian themed evening. One of our European partner schools is in Sardinia, so some of my colleagues went to visit in October. All the schools take turns doing this, and learn all about the traditions of that country. This meant the staff came back with tons of food, so we ate fish egg pasta for dinner, which was actually really nice if you didn't think about what you were eating. Other members of staff made traditional Sardinian dishes as well so we had a bit of a feast, italian bread, pizza, vegetables, cured meats etc etc, and of course some (Bordeaux) wine to go with it. As usual I sat there for a good while not understanding the super speed french being spoken by about 16 people around me, but I understood the general gist of the conversation. It's so easy to zone out, but once we were round the table eating and I was just listening to one conversation between a few people, not everyone talking over each other, it was much much easier to understand!

In the final weeks of school I taught the children a sort of DIY christmas song, since all the traditional english ones were too hard for the younger children. We sang

Santa Claus is on his way,
on his way,
on is way,
Santa Claus is on his way,
Hurry Santa

to the tune of "London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down, London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady" (at least I think those are the words but you get the jist). Well that freestyle song went down a treat and they love it, especially with the actions. I taught them all about the traditions of Christmas in England, I was horrified to find out that THEY DO NOT HAVE STOCKINGS!!!!! So when i showed them the pictures they just kept shouting "chaussette, chausette" and thought it was Santa's sock..?! After a visual demonstration (I was Santa) they understood the concept, but seemed confused that Santa did that in England but not for them...

The banner I made with Class 4 and 5

 For my lesson teaching the teachers, I made scones since it was impossible to find mincemeat to make mince pies. They were impressed with our tradition, and can't wait for the goods I'm going to bring back after Christmas seeing as I spent the most the evening recounting the food we have at home for Christmas, and in general. It was basically an hour and a half of me getting really hungry. Patrice (one of the teachers) came in to the lesson late, and accepted the offer of a scone, and when we explained you cut it in half and top it with jam and cream...this is what he did.... Horrified doesn't come close.

Well I hope you've all enjoyed this read, and I promise to be more regular with the updates in the new year.

Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee!


Friday, December 9, 2011

C'est ma vie!

Hello all! After much persuasion and encouragement I've decided it would be a fabulous idea to document my life on this year (or remaining 8 months) abroad. I'm really funny so I'm sure it will be entertaining...
 I'm hoping it will give those of you I don't get the chance to speak to very often the opportunity to keep up with my wild child antics and my general french mishaps.

Autumn in France..

Centre-ville of Bordeaux
Well as I hope you've realised, I've been living in Bordeaux for just over 3 months now. I'll start by telling you all about my job seeing as that's why I'm here. I LOVE it. I'm working at an ecole maternelle and an ecole elementaire which are connected, as an English Language Assistant. Most my time is spent in the maternelle, where the youngest child is 2, and the eldest 5. In the elementaire section the students go up to the age of 11, so like primary school in the UK. The children are amazing, and of course think I'm fabulous (rightfully so). As they're so young, a lot of my work is practical work with them, trying to drum in key themes and words, such as colours, numbers etc. The classes in elementaire however are more formal and taught in a normal classroom style. Seeing as I'm such a child myself, I have so much fun with them. I do find myself getting jealous when I can't colour with them though, as unfortunately I do need to maintain some kind of authority stance, and not act like the complete child I am. Nothing stopped me yesterday though, when I was a tad too proud when my collage bauble was the first one hung on the paper tree in class 1...

Most the children are keen to learn, so are always repeating my english words, the moment I walk into school theres just a canon of 'ello jessicaaa' in the classic french accent. As soon as one says it, the others do....then they all repeat it over and over until the teacher has to tell them to stop. I'm such a local celebrity! The school in one of the suburbs of Bordeaux, called Begles, and we have children from vastly different backgrounds. I was told this week one of the particularly agressive children sees a lot of violence at home; his mother is an alcoholic, drug addict and a prostitute. Heartbreaking doesn't even come close, and when compared with some of the other children, who's parents are really involved in the school, others are university professors, it really shows what a variety we have. All the children are fantastic though, and the school is a fabulous environment for them, no matter what it is they go home to, I really hope the time they spent there helps shape them in some way. Of course I do have favourites (should I be publicly admitting that?!) and they are so so wonderful. I'm jumped on for hugs every day and have to literally pry hands from around me to walk down the corridor, I'm already wondering how on earth I'm going to manage to leave in July...
The Staff at Arcachon

Wine Tasting in St Emilion...pros
The staff at the school deserve a mention too of course. There are 6 teachers in maternelle, plus the head teacher shares some of the responsibility with a class. They are all so lovely and really welcomed me into the school and french life. Francoise, the head teacher was kind enough to let me stay with her and her family until I found a place to live, where I her family made sure I learned everything regarding Bordeaux and it's wines, so I'm a bit of an expert these days....just saying. It's so nice to work with a team who really love what they do, the build up to christmas has me as excited as the children, watching a different christmas themed play every day...the advent calendars at school...songs about 'pere noel'. It's just all ridiculously cute and I'm far too into it.

Martha and Maddison showing Bordeaux's finest
Well that's my job covered for now, next is home sweet home. I live with a lovely little french family. The mother, Sophie and her daughter Marie who is also 21 were who I was initially living with, as her other daughter, Tiphaine had recently moved out, but we now have Sabrina, a friend of a family friend staying with us aswell, who is also my age. I do feel sorry for Sophie sometimes as were all dancing around the kitchen to Beyonce like madmen, but I think she loves that kind of spirit in the house. I'm really lucky to have got the mix of living with friends and family. Marie is so so funny, we get on like a house on fire, and does wonders for my (still failing) french, but then I still have Sophie taking good care of me, doing the airport runs etc, so I've definitely lucked out.
Maddison and I at Dune du Pyla

Hopefully it's obvious I'm having a fantastic time here thanks to my magical collection of photos to show what I don't have time/ the heart to bore you any further to write about.

I feel like this must have been really boring to read, but I wanted to set out my life here to a degree so you understand what I'm talking about when I mention things and people... I'm off to Spain tomorrow so you can expect another entry in the near future with all those fun stories.

Miss you all, love you all,